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AUTHOR Charner, Ivan; Fraser, Bryna Shore TITLE Fast Food Jobs. National Study of Fast Food
Employment. INSTITUTION National Inst. for Work and Learning, Washington,
D.C. PUB DATE 84 NOTE 150p.; For a related document, see CE 044 300. Parts
of document contain small print. AVAILABLE FROM National Institute for Work and Learning, 1200-18th
St., N.W., Suite 316, Washington, DC 20036 ($20.00).
PUB TYPE Reports - Research/Technical (143) Tests /Evaluation Instruments (160)
EDRS PRICE MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS. DESCRIPTORS Educational Attainment; Education Work Relationship;
*Employee Attitudes; *Employment Experience; *Employment Patterns; Employment Potential; *Employment Practices; Employment Qualifications; *Food Service; Job Performance; Job Training; Labor Market; National Surveys; 'Jccupational Mobility; Salary Wage Differentials; Student Educational Objectives; Transfer of Training; Work Attitudes
IDENTIFIERS *Fast Foods
ABSTRACT A study examined employment in the fast-food
industry. The national survey collected data from employees at 279 fast-food restaurants from seven companies. Female employees outnumbered males by two to one. The ages of those fast-food employees in the survey sample ranged from 14 to 71, witn fully 70 percent being in the 16- to 20-year-old age range. The sample had a higher percentage of Blacks than the 1980 census (16 versus 12 percent) and a lower percentage of whites (77 versus 83 percent) and Hispanics (5 versus 6 percent). For the vast majority of fast-food employees, there is no link between job and schooling. Despite employees' strong interest in being promoted to management-level jobs (especially among minority workers), most restaurants recruited their management trainees from outside the restaurant. As might be expected, the issues: of "overworked and underpaid" was a clear concern among employees. On the positive side, employment in the fast-food industry did appear to offer an opportunity to develop a number of transferable, job-related skills. Employment in the fast-food industry appeared to have little effect on performance in school or the highest grade completed. (Appendixes to this report include the hourly employee questionnaire and selected anecdotes from the survey.) (MN)
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Ivan Charner and Bryna Shore Fraser
U S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCAT,ON
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION
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i National Study of Fast Food Employment
FAST FOOD JOBS
Ivan (harner and Bryna Shore Fraser
National Institute for Work and Learning 1200 18th Street, N.W., Suite 3!6
Washington, D.C. 20036
Ivan Charner and Bryna Shore Fraser have given those who are con- cerned about youth employment a major assignment. Drawing on a firm and rich data base, they illuminate with facts the area of previously vague, and it turns out erroneous, conjecture about what "fast food lobs" amount to More broadly, they provide an invaluable case study in the increasingly apparent future of youth employment as a whole.
We have been strongly inclined to look down our noses at the jobs the fast food chains offer young people. They are commonly dismissed as short-term, low-paid, "dummied up" work, providing no vorthwhile training and offering no future. I have sometimes wondered just how they differ from my own running, too many years ago, of a newspaper route at six o'clock in the morning or shoveling the neighbors' walks at ten below zero. Perhaps the answer is suggested by the recollection that my parents turned thumbs down on the job I had lined up proudly as a pin-setter in the local bowling alley at six cents a line.
Yet what we learn from this report is that, at least in the eyes of over four thousand occupants of these fast food jobs, they offer a good deal that is generally considered worthwhile. The work-habit training disciplines are strict. If the job skill elements involved are minimal, the experience in such things as working with and for other people, learning to communi .ite, trying a little harder and paying a price if you don't, turns out to be substantial. A sense of job satisfaction is manifest from these data, and an equally healthy sense of dissatisfaction with jobs that don't use what you know is inside you.
This report accompanies assurance with criticism. It draws from the data regarding employee reactions what appear to be sound and con- structive suggestions about enhancing the values of this kind of employ- ment, to the benefit of employer and employee interests alike. If it perhaps tells first-rate managers little that they didn't already know or sense, it fortifies their purpose and case for change and improvement. Properly concerned about high turnover rates and the pressures to in- crease productivity, they can identify here the commonalities of interest between managers and workers.
The most wasted public reading of this report would be, though, that all is well in the area of youth employment, that we can lean back and be relieved that millions of young people are being given the chance to fry hamburgers and chicken parts and operate check-out computers that have pictures on them that stand for figures. The report cries out for harder thinking about the subject it illuminates.
If the training value in this kind of work mocks the "dead end" label that has been attached to it, the fact remains that promotional oppor- tunities in the fast food industry are limited. Thinking this through brings the realization that most youth work as recently as twenty-five years ago was in occupations, principally in factories or mills or mines or crafts or very large service enterprises, that were entry-level jobs to
established progressions within the employing establishment This is no kneer true. Most manufacturing companies aren't hiring people under twenty-one years of age. As the shift from a production to a service economy continues, more and more employment is in relatively smaller companies.
What will it take to make "egress," "access," "port of entry" jobs out of what companies like those in the fast food industry offer? How can the training the' provide be transferred?
The answers to these critical questions won't and can't come from the private companies themselves. They will have to come from the develop- ment of community procedures of one kind or another. Signs of the assumption of this responsibility are emerging in a variety of forms: "career brokering" agencies, "experience credentialing" programs, "career passport" initiatives, and so forth. But the need here goes far beyond what these piecemeal measures are accomplishing. An institu- tional vacuum has developed so far a; responsibility for administering youth employment is concerned. We have simply got to step up to a recognition of the implications of the fact that most young people's first work experiences, especially if they move into these experiences without a college education, are not going to lead directly to their adult e. ,ploy- ment.
In this connection, there would be infinite value in a follow-up to the Charner/Fraser survey which would trace over at least a one-year period several hundred of the individuals involved. Did they stay on or did they get jobs someplace else? What kinds of jobs? Did they stay in or go back to school?
The still sterner advice implicit in this report is that serious considera tion be given the broader employment prospect young people face today. Any suggestion that a hitch or two of fast food employment will in itself lead a young person to something more worthwhile and permanent would be misleading.
This report is convincing that fast food jobs have values going con- siderably beyond what has been generally recognized and that the worthwhileness of this kind of work experience can be substantially en- hanced by a combination of private and community efforts. The young people engaging in this work should be told at the same time and as plainly as possible that this isn't likely in itself to take them where they want and expect to go. It is a worthwhile complement to what they are learning in school, but it is a false escape route from tit: Increasing education an "information society" is demanding as the minimum price of a meaningful or satisfying career.
( harrier and Fr r have provided an invaluable bash f